Top Foods That Are Poisonous For Pets – Part 1

Several foods that are perfectly suitable for humans can be toxic to dogs and cats. Clients who read our newsletters are aware that chocolate is toxic for pets, but sometimes there are ingredients in foods that the owner doesn’t realize can harm their pets. Since pets are known to eat almost any human food, often these toxicities occur when a pet finds food fallen on the floor or help themselves to snacks left on the coffee table. In some cases we understand why a particular food causes toxicity to pets, but in many newly discovered pet-toxic foods, science has yet to discover the exact biological mechanism by which they sicken pets.

Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine Products

Chocolate has a dark side for pets: it contains both Theobromine and Caffeine that can cause stimulation of the nervous system and heart muscle. The darker the chocolate (the higher the cacao content) the more likely a small dose may make a small dog or cat ill. The amount of chocolate in a commercial cookie like an oreo is not likely toxic, but is still not recommended. The most visible sign of this toxicity to the owner is a pet who becomes jittery with tremors. Many more severe problems can be happening that are unseen. Prompt treatment at our clinic usually allows the pet to recover. Coffee and Caffeine containing energy drinks can cause the same toxicity.

Xylitol Sweetener

After chocolate and caffeine, the next most common toxic exposure is from Xylitol in food products, such as some chewing gums, candies, breads and sweet baked goods, dental care products for people, and even a few brands of peanut butter. Orbit gum is the most common problem, as dogs have a real penchant for raiding open purses on the floor. Because Xylitol IN DOGS ONLY stimulates the release of insulin, blood sugar levels can plummet to dangerously low levels.

Once again, hospitalization with intensive care usually allows for recovery.

Onions, Chives, Garlic, and Leeks

Our foods often contain large amounts of these plants, and cooking makes them no less toxic for pets. When ingested, compounds in the plants are converted to sulfur compounds that cause red blood cells to break down, causing an unusual type of anemia. They can also develop abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. For cats, just one half teaspoon per pound, and for dogs one half tablespoon per pound can cause anemia. I had seen a german shepherd who had this peculiar type of anemia, and when the owner was questioned, she was giving her dog three concentrated garlic extract capsules per day when she took her own doses. This dog did recover when the supplement was stopped.

Plums, Peaches, Cherries, Apricots

These fruits are all in the same family and can cause vomiting and diarrhea depending on the amount eaten, but are generally not life threatening. Rhubarb also causes the same symptoms, but additionally could cause kidney failure.

Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.

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